Microsoft reveals Windows Phone 8.1 with Siri-like 'Cortana' personal assistant

Posted:
in iPhone edited May 2014
Software behemoth Microsoft on Wednesday showed off the latest update to its Windows Phone mobile operating system, refining several areas and officially unveiling Cortana, Microsoft's answer to Apple's Siri.




Cortana is the update's tentpole feature, bringing Windows Phone users the ability to schedule meetings, send text messages, and search the web using their voice. The company says Cortana will learn from users, using heuristics in an effort to return more relevant information.

Microsoft has also provided an API for third-party applications to interface with the Bing-powered assistant, a feature still missing from Siri and Google's Google Now offering. There is no word on exactly what level of integration developers can expect, however.

Rumors that Microsoft was set to bring Cortana, named for a character from the blockbuster Halo franchise, to Windows Phone first surfaced in January. The company is believed to have plans to bring Cortana to the Xbox and Windows platforms next year.

Windows Phone 8.1 also includes a new Action Center that combines the functions of iOS's Control Center and Notification Center into a single feature. Action Center displays situational information, like battery percentage and notifications, and provides customizable shortcut buttons.

Other new features include the ability to set custom backgrounds and a "high density" option for adding more tiles to the home screen. Microsoft has also added a new keyboard input method, which the company calls "shape writing," allowing users to swipe across the keys to type, similar to third-party keyboards available for Google's Android.

Windows Phone 8.1 will begin rolling out to consumers "in the next few months."
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 113
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 5,005member
    The copy machine is alive and well in Redmond
  • Reply 2 of 113
    jason98jason98 Posts: 766member

    What an ugly name. They must be thinking that their target customer base are all Halo fans.

  • Reply 3 of 113
    redhotfuzzredhotfuzz Posts: 306member
    GROUNDBREAKING!!!
  • Reply 4 of 113
    addicted44addicted44 Posts: 826member

    This is a lot nicer than Siri. It seamlessly integrates Bing Search, Local Search, Siri, Google Now-lite, as well as allowing 3rd parties to tie into Cortana (something I am still amazed Apple hasn't added), all within the same interface.

  • Reply 5 of 113
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    addicted44 wrote: »
    This is a lot nicer than Siri. It seamlessly integrates Bing Search, Local Search, Siri, Google Now-lite, as well as allowing 3rd parties to tie into Cortana (something I am still amazed Apple hasn't added), all within the same interface.
    And people still say Cook should be fired because he let Scott Forstall go. It's because of Forstall that Apple is playing catch up with things like Siri.
  • Reply 6 of 113
    brlawyerbrlawyer Posts: 828member

    Who the hell is Cortana? Where does that name come from? Nerdland?

  • Reply 7 of 113
    addicted44addicted44 Posts: 826member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post





    And people still say Cook should be fired because he let Scott Forstall go. It's because of Forstall that Apple is playing catch up with things like Siri.



    I can't imagine anyone would say that. I completely agree that Forstall was really holding Apple back.

     

    Just seeing how much Apple was able to change between iOS 6 and iOS 7, gives me great hope that the next iOS 8 will bring Apple back to leaving its competitors far behind.

  • Reply 8 of 113
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    jason98 wrote: »
    What an ugly name. They must be thinking that their target customer base are all Halo fans.

    I'm not a Halo player so I only now the reference loosely but the name sounds nice to me, seems to make sense as I seem to recall in the game Cortana was a form of AI, and since MS had bought Bungie (which upset a lot of Mac users back in the day) it debuted on the Xbox where it was a breakaway success it's a nice nod. It's not an original name, but neither is Siri which I found odd that Apple kept since the tend to rebrand the tech they purchase.

    brlawyer wrote: »
    Who the hell is Cortana? Where does that name come from? Nerdland?


    PS: Be careful. Every word and image on that page could be false because it's Wikipedia.
  • Reply 9 of 113
    redhotfuzzredhotfuzz Posts: 306member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by brlawyer View Post

     

    Who the hell is Cortana? Where does that name come from? Nerdland?


     

    Well, Halo-land, so yes.

  • Reply 10 of 113
    addicted44addicted44 Posts: 826member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by brlawyer View Post

     

    Who the hell is Cortana? Where does that name come from? Nerdland?




    Halo

     

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cortana

  • Reply 11 of 113
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 5,005member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by addicted44 View Post

     

    This is a lot nicer than Siri. It seamlessly integrates Bing Search, Local Search, Siri, Google Now-lite, as well as allowing 3rd parties to tie into Cortana (something I am still amazed Apple hasn't added), all within the same interface.


    WOW, you made the assessment based on a press release, don't you think you should at least wait until you actually used it. How many times does companies like MS have slideware that people buy into only to find out it does not work as claimed which it better than anything else out there.

     

    Remember this, engineer who make these product think they are god because they can create things, so by definition it the best thing ever.

  • Reply 12 of 113
    negafoxnegafox Posts: 480member

    The important part is that of today's announcements is that Windows 8.1 will receive a patch that will add back the start menu.

  • Reply 13 of 113

    AI, you missed the biggest news of mobile for the last few years.

     

    MS has made Windows Phone FREE for all devices under 9" in size. Huge shot across Google's bow.

  • Reply 14 of 113
    ezhikezhik Posts: 101member
    Don't really care much for Cortana, but I am rather intrigued by the single screen idea they have:
    [IMG]http://i.imgur.com/MDmlZoL.jpg[/IMG]
  • Reply 15 of 113
    quadra 610quadra 610 Posts: 6,756member

    Zzzzz . . . 

     

    MS finally moved its ass to tack on a Siri clone.

  • Reply 16 of 113
    Having had a brief play with Windows phones I can safely assure you that if Apple disappeared and I was left with only a choice between Windows Phone and Android Windows Phone would win hands down.

    It is quick, so quick it leaves Android for dust. It's actually quite nice to use, far more than Android. It also works correctly with Exchange which is great for businesses.

    I'll still go iOS over Windows Phone but Windows Phone is a great improvement over previous Windows mobile OSs
  • Reply 17 of 113
    Still less creepy than Google.
  • Reply 18 of 113
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,176member
    AI, you missed the biggest news of mobile for the last few years.

    MS has made Windows Phone FREE for all devices under 9" in size. Huge shot across Google's bow.

    I think they'll be happy to grab a little share from Apple too by mimicking Google's successful free software distribution efforts. It's a shot across every other mobile manufacturers bow.
  • Reply 19 of 113
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    addicted44 wrote: »

    I can't imagine anyone would say that. I completely agree that Forstall was really holding Apple back.

    Just seeing how much Apple was able to change between iOS 6 and iOS 7, gives me great hope that the next iOS 8 will bring Apple back to leaving its competitors far behind.
    Seriously I think the stagnation in iOS can be laid at the feet of Forstall AND Jobs. I know the Mark Gurman's of the world claim that the only thing new in iOS 7 was the so-called flat design (meaning all the other stuff was already in the pipeline). One I don't buy it, two, if that really was the case how is it that we only got this stuff after Forstall was out of the picture? How come we didn't get something like control center (which I use every day) in iOS 5 or 6? I have high hopes that things will greatly improve now that Federighi is running the show.
  • Reply 20 of 113
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post





    I think they'll be happy to grab a little share from Apple too by mimicking Google's successful free software distribution efforts. It's a shot across every other mobile manufacturers bow.

     

    They might get some from Apple, but it's mainly against Android as they make the only other popular OS that can be used by anyone.

     

    The HUGE difference (which will be a big selling point) is MS has an indemnification policy (something Google lacks, and MS loves to make fun of). With all the lawsuits going on this is a big advantage for Windows Phone over Android.

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